Power Trip: Rimzim Dadu’s bold vision for the sari

Power Trip: Rimzim Dadu’s bold vision for the sari

She has dressed Bollywood stars, her clothes have made it to the red carpet; award-winning designer Rimzim Dadu shares her vision for the sari with Business Today.

Rimzim's Dadu's metal sari in electric blue Rimzim's Dadu's metal sari in electric blue

Rimzim Dadu’s breakthrough with the sari occurred a while back when she broke into international acclaim when Bollywood actor Sonam Kapur walked the Cannes red carpet in an electric blue ‘metal sari’. This was 2016.  

The texture, form, and design of her range of ‘metal saris’ has since evolved and become an abstract rendition of the fluid demure drape that the six yards have always been. Dadu’s vision for the sari now is to catapult it to the power wardrobes and give it a place among business suits, pants, and jackets – basically, break the stereotype.

 “The sari is ready to become part of the power dress code and my experiments with its texture and fabric all this while have been to take it to a whole new level than how we have worn the garment so far. It is time to see the sari for what it is – an unstitched drape full of possibilities. There are so many ways in which you can wear a sari – it is time we explored,” Dadu told Business Today.

The sari as a power-garment

Dadu’s Noida studio is lined with skirts, blouses and dresses conjured out of high octane mustards, silvers, magentas, and purples. The textures are heavy and intricate. What stands out apart from her striking palette is her play with the material. Dadu’s stunning metal saris are made of steel.

“I use steel wires to weave the pallu of my saris. The steel is first melted to create pliable wires which are then woven to form the pallu. I feel excited to work with material in innovative ways and discover new possibilities by deconstructing form, texture, and structure,” she said.

Dadu’s saris are essentially stitched garments with maximum focus on the long scarf-end. The silhouette of the sari as we have known it stands reconstructed with Dadu’s saris. Radical as her vision seems about the sari, Dadu says that her saris have so far found wide acceptance from all cross-sections including as bridal wear.

Rimzim Dadu at her studio

“The metal sari has often been picked by brides – especially those who want to make a statement on the big day. Also, a lot of people perceive by the appearance of my saris that they could take a long time to drape, but actually – it only takes about a few minutes to wear them,” Dadu said.

Her saris are price-competitive with any other high-end Indian designer. They start from a base range of Rs 1.15 lakh. They all fall under the price point of Rs 2 lakh. “I have priced my saris in the range consciously so that people can actually wear my clothes – I don’t find any reason to keep my work exorbitant though making each of my saris is both cost and labour intensive,” she said.

Dadu thinks that the sari has taken too long to break into the international fashion scene primarily because of cultural appropriation of the garment and the way it has been worn so far.

Pinks, blues and mustards are part of Dadu's eclectic palette

“The sari could have by now done more and stated a lot beyond being the typical caricature of Indian clothing as portrayed by the West. It has the possibility of a stylish, versatile garment that can be worn across segments and purposed distinctly as casual and formal,” she said.

Dadu says that the beauty of the six yards lies in the comfort it provides for various body types. “The sari can both define and envelop; can enhance and cover which makes it a versatile garment for all body types,” she said.

Daughter of a garment exporter, being is fashion she claims was a ‘natural choice'. At 36, she has already spent around 20 years in the fashion industry. Her label has now turned 15 and she recently celebrated the milestone with a show at the Kiran Nadar Art Museum (KNMA) Delhi.